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BLOG #2  - January 24, 2021

A lot has happened since the last blog post.  Everyone’s generosity and support of Okizu has been incredible and has compelled us to raise our fundraising goal to $100,000.   As of today, seven teams have completed this year’s Atlantic Challenge.  The race winners set a world record for fastest crossing for a pairs team despite the less than desirable weather conditions.  And the focus of today’s blog – our boat arrived!!!


Meet Jack Keane (fka JAXX):


The process of obtaining Jack Keane has been a long and at times an amusing process.  It’s hard to believe at this point that I started the process to buy the boat back in August of 2020.  When I talked to rowers who had competed in prior Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge races they all shared the same tip – get your boat as early as possible and spend as much time on it as possible.  I never anticipated it would take over four months from start to finish to acquire a boat.


After deciding which boat I was interested in, I had Rannoch (boat broker & manufacturer) perform a boat survey.  With a clean bill of health, I was able to quickly come to terms with Carl Plasschaert, who rowed JAXX in the 2019 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  But despite reaching a quick agreement, the fun was just beginning.  I had Rannoch perform a couple of minor maintenance items on the boat.  After which they contacted to tell me there were a couple of issues with shipping the boat to the USA.  As the boat was built in 2019 it was equipped with lithium batteries.  However, one cannot import lithium batteries into the USA.  Rannoch agreed to let me borrow a set of AGM batteries until the race start.  But then shipping company notified Rannoch and me that they were going to label the shipping container as containing hazardous materials due to the life raft.  The life raft has built-in Co2 cartridges to inflate the life raft as well as flares.  This meant increased shipping costs.  😊


Then there was the issue of food.  Carl included all his leftover freezed dried food and wet rations.  I assumed that since Marianne and I have come back into the USA with freezed dried food after backpacking trips to Europe, that there were no issues with including the food in the container with the boat.  But governmental regulations often times make no sense.  You can bring freezed dried food into the USA without no issues if you personally accompany the food.  If, however, you ship the same food, then you must declare the food with the FDA and get their approval before shipping it to the USA.  The cost to process the FDA paperwork was cost prohibitive.  Rannoch once again was accommodating and agreed to hold the food at their facility.  When I go to the UK in the spring for my mandatory seamanship classes, I will bring the food back with me in a duffel bag. 


With all of this resolved, Rannoch asked me for my custom agent’s contact information.  My response was do I need one?  Turns out I did.


So I set about trying to retain a custom agent.  Turns out not an easy task during Covid.  Some folks that I contacted were working from home and didn’t respond to voicemails.  Others had full voicemail boxes.  But I fortunately found Michele at Alta Logistics.  Michele thought I was pretty hilarious when I explained I just wanted to drive up to the port with my F150 and drive the boat & trailer out of the container.  Turns out you have to hire a transport company to pick up the container at the port and transport it to a different facility for unloading.  One issue was the container at that point is sitting on a tractor trailer, so how to get a boat and trailer out of the container when its 5 ft. off the ground.  This required a transport company with a drive off dock.  And of course, since the container was labeled hazardous, there were additional charges.  😊


Even with all the players in place, there were shipping delays and congestion at ports due to Covid.  But the boat finally arrived and I was able to pick it up on January 12th at Impact Transportation’s warehouse in Oakland.   Silly me to think I was just going to be rowing a boat – never realized I was going to get an education in international shipping logistics.  Now I just need some nice weather to get it out on the water.

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